Jim Crow Laws segregated whites and blacks in separate schools, separate bathrooms, and drinking from separate water fountains for 89 years. The separate but equal philosophy was officially outlawed in 1965. But desegregating some parts of the country has been slow and Albany is a prime example.
"There TMs the East Albany area where there TMs not as many great employment prospects," said Economics Professor Aaron Johnson. "You look at the school districts, they TMre under-funded."
It TMs a struggle that led even the most famous civil rights leader to throw up his hands. "Albany was one of the places that Dr. King thought he failed in, simply because of the hard-pressed in this area," said Bishop Frederick Williams.
But Martin Luther King, Jr. TMs frustration with the good life city hasn TMt stopped Williams of Gethsemane Worship Center. "Gethsemane was berthed 18, 19 years ago and Gethsemane is just a non-traditional church," said Williams.
Williams describes his work at the church as "arms to the community.
"Albany has always been a city divided by religion and race," said Williams. "We TMre working on racial reconciliation at this time so we TMre connecting with a lot of prominent other ethnical groups."
He is deeply troubled by the effects of poverty and the cycle of violence it creates among young people. He says he TMs seen too many young African-Americans trapped in neighborhoods where crime is high and employment is low. They TMre never taught the importance of education or a good work ethic and often turn to a life of crime.
"When you TMve dealt with areas of high poverty, you haven TMt had that background as far as how to build wealth, how to manage your money," said Johnson. "A lot of times, you TMre thinking day-to-day."
"Let TMs reach out to those young men who are so angry about so many things such as unemployment, opportunities, bad parenting," added Williams.
Williams personally felt the impact of that anger in December of 2009. His sister was murdered in her home by a home invasion. His sister TMs death prompted Williams to create Stop the Violence, a pro-youth partnership between law enforcement and community leaders to provide positive alternatives to the criminal lifestyle.
"Mentorship. Health and wellness. Opportunity. Educational and entrepreneurship. Nobody TMs going in these streets and working. We TMre going into those houses," said Williams.
Bringing the people of Albany together hasn TMt been easy.
"We TMre meeting a lot of resistance and I can TMt say that it TMs from the whites or the blacks," said Williams. "It TMs from both."
But he TMs starting to see progress. "We TMve got stacks of letters in there," said Williams. "They TMre not coming from the parents. They TMre coming from the children."